all photographs are taken by me unless otherwise noted.
© charlotte woolf
In 2010, Gordon Stettinius founded Candela Books, a publishing company, and, to date, they have produced three fine art photography monographs with more in the works. In 2011, Stettinius founded a fine art photography gallery dedicated to featuring the work of nationally respected photographers.Candela Books + Gallery now inhabits a renovated 3,800 square foot building in the downtown arts district of Richmond, Virginia and is one of the leading advocates for fine art photography in the mid-Atlantic region. As a photographer, Stettinius has been exhibited nationally and internationally over the last twenty years and his work can be found in numerous private and public collections. His work is represented by Robin Rice Gallery in New York and Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. Stettinius is also an emeritus member of 1708 Gallery and an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Interview by Lauren Goldstein
Lauren Goldstein: It was the work of Gita Lenz that inspired you to start Candela Books, and over the past few years photo books have become a popular method of display as well as a way for photographers to self-promote their work. Why do you think photo books are having a moment in the spotlight? Do you have any favorite photo books?
Gordon Stettinius: I am excited about the growing popularity of the artist book, and I am enjoying the ways that artists are empowering themselves outside of the traditional publishing mainstream. My main reason for venturing into the traditionally offset printed book was that I really wanted Gita’s book to have the feel of the books of her contemporaries - she was working from the 1940s into the 1960s.
The first photography book I ever bought was Ralph Eugene Meatyard, the first Aperture Monograph, with an implausible pink cover. And that book has always remained a favorite. This book helped me to realize that the photographer needn’t be passive; they could intervene, could accept reality and then build on it, and my mind was sort of blown. I still have a fondness for people who are astute observers of the world around them, but I admire also those who fashion the world as they see fit, where reality is more relative and mutable.
LG: You are the juror for Filter’s fifth annual juried exhibition, This May Have Happened, which calls for images that will compel viewers to ask questions and make assumptions about the narrative within still photographs. What compelled you to theme the exhibition around the power of suggestion?
GS: Visual narrative appeals to me. I like where the mind goes with just a hint of information. The photograph as document is often less interesting to me unless that document leaves me room to interpret, expand, and synthesize. Editorial illustration can be a very powerful and persuasive thing with a 1:1 ratio where image equals understanding. But then there are those offbeat moments when you are called to question an image’s motivation, the events leading up to or away from that ‘supreme instant’, when there is more than one interpretation.